IT was always going to be a tough ask when Llanelli Town travelled to meet opponents vying for the league title just two points behind current leaders, Llantwit Major, but with the contest level on 1-1 at the break, the visitors could feel satisfied with their efforts and had more than matched the home side in many aspects of the game.
Once again, the academy provided over half of the Reds` personnel due to injuries, and the youngsters brought in are not letting the occasion overawe them, and hopefully will be better players in the future for the experience.
The match began in the worst possible manner for the visitors, with the Dragons taking the lead after just 4 minutes when a far post delivery by Vaughan Fowler led to Sam Johnson being afforded far too much space to line up his finish and slot it past Exauce Dimonekene.
This setback could well have affected the manner of the Reds` play, but to their credit they kept probing at the home side and were rewarded for their efforts with a well-worked goal in the 16th minute when a move involving a number of players and carried on by Thomas Hillman and captain Louis Gerrard culminated in the latter taking the ball in his stride before beating goalkeeper Morgan Davies with a crisp strike.
Both sides then went close to taking the lead with the Dragons catching out the visitors with a quickly-taken free kick which forced Dimonekene to divert clear from Johnson`s finish.
When the Reds countered, a teasing cross high into the box by Hillman forced Jordan Knott to hack his attempted clearance over the home goal, and the impressive Hillman was involved again, this time with a delivery into the middle which Sam Parsons met with a flying header which sailed over the top.
The main worry for the visitors was that they were being caught continually on the back foot whenever the home side took a quick set-piece, and their goal survived a narrow escape from such a situation with a deflection saving an almost certain score.
As the half drew to a close, the Dragons were once again beginning to gain the upper hand, and had strong appeals for a penalty turned down by referee Kris Hames when a home player was floored in the area just before the break.
When the second half started, the Reds might have made more of an opportunity which arose when Ryan Bevan put in a strong run towards the home goal which seemed to favour a shot on target, but he elected instead to try and find another colleague and the chance was lost.
At the other end, Dimonekene dealt comfortably with an Aiden Lewis effort, before the visitors were forced into a change on 52 minutes with midfielder Owain Phillips-Taylor being forced off injured and Callum Saunders coming on in his place.
This disruption seemed to affect the Reds to such an extent that they were never the same outfit which had up to that point matched the hosts, and the game swung dramatically in the favour of the Dragons when within the space of eight minutes of the enforced substitution they scored twice to take the contest away from the visitors.
The first was a superb strike by Ian Traylor who met a ball which had been partially cleared before lashing it home via the underside of the bar on 57 minutes, and before the visitors had time to digest this setback the Dragons made it three, when Drew Fahiya saw his initial attempt kept out by Dimonekene but who was then helpless to prevent the home player from turning in the rebound on the hour.
The hosts were now well on top with their two-goal cushion, and they put their opponents under some severe pressure, with Lewis striking the outside of the post, while Dimonekene frantically scrambled to retrieve the loose ball following a melee in front of the net.
It was seemingly now a case of damage-limitation for the Reds, but they fell even further behind in the 72nd minute when they again failed to prevent their opponents from profiting from another quickly-taken free kick which allowed Fowler to gain possession before finding the bottom corner.
Dimonekene prevented another certain goal when he kept out a close range header from Corey Jenkins, but the final whistle confirmed what was eventually a comfortable home win which keeps their title hopes firmly on track.
The Reds are without a game next weekend prior to their double-header over the Easter holiday when they face Briton Ferry Llansawel away on Good Friday before the Easter Monday return at Stebonheath.
Carmarthen representation at the Coastal Rowing World Championships backs sport to continue thriving in Wales
Carmarthen’s Zoe Davies, race committee chair for the British Rowing offshore championships and umpire at the upcoming World Championships in Saundersfoot, is
delighted to see the world’s best coming to South Wales – and following her own eventful
introduction to the sport competing at the 2015 World Championships believes
participation will boom thanks to a home major competition.
The World Coastal Rowing Championships 2022, with the likes of two-time Olympic
champion Helen Glover competing, will bring together two exciting formats of rowing across
the two weekends in Pembrokeshire. On the first weekend beginning on 7th October, the top
club coastal rowers from around the world will compete in a course along the Saundersfoot
coastline, followed by the beach sprint rowing the following weekend.
Tipped to be a future Olympic rowing discipline, the beach sprint finals will be an exciting
and fast-paced spectacle where the best of the sport will be celebrated in Wales. Reflecting
on the excitement building as the World Championships near ever closer, Davies is backing
Wales to be the perfect setting.
“Wales already had an established coastal and offshore rowing community – I knew when
British Rowing were bidding to host the World Championships that it was a no-brainer. We
have water on three sides after all!
“Before 2015, and before I competed at the World Coastal Championships in Peru, I was
coxing the really fine boats you see at the Olympics, what people might consider the
classical rowing you’d expect to see. To be honest, I rated myself and when I was asked to
compete in Peru I thought ‘how hard can it be?’ When I got there – I was quite literally out
of my depth, I had no idea where I was.
“I’ve learnt so much being involved in coastal rowing – I have found its great fun, great
technique – and if you’re watching, it’s so easy to engage with. For people like me, who at
one time was almost snobby about it, it’s an eye-opening when you actually watch and
involve yourself in the sport. That’s why the World Championships here in Wales will be
such a big moment, it will no doubt inspire so many new people to get involve in the sport.
“Having done the two previous events at Saundersfoot in preparation for the World
Championships, the coastal rowing scene is just so friendly. Being a local girl myself, the
Welsh are always welcoming!
“What drives this passion in the sport is that people know how much coastal rowing gives
them. The feeling you get out on the water, where you’re not looking at your mobile phone
and you can enjoy the natural setting you’re in, there’s no wonder everyone is so
“From a spectator point of view, I just know everyone will be glued to the action. The racing
is quick, you don’t need to know rowing to enjoy the competition and understand what is
happening. It’s a day at the beach, it’s a completely unique experience because the area is
stunning – Wales is the perfect setting for the world’s best offshore rowing talent.”
With the discipline growing at an exponential rate, as boats are made available across Wales
for grassroots coastal rowing clubs to engage more and more participants, Davies sees a
bright future for the sport – and a new generation inspired by a World Championships
coming to Wales.
Reds extend unbeaten run to nine matches
EXTENDING their unbeaten league and cup run to nine with this latest win, Llanelli Town are now level with current leaders, Cambrian & Clydach Vale, on 14 points with a just a better solitary goal difference separating them.
Two well-taken strikes in either half by Keane Watts saw off the challenge of their opponents, who had plenty of the ball without really creating too much in the way of clear-cut chances in an overall somewhat scrappy encounter.
Both sides were singularly lacking a cutting edge in the final third, although the visitors did create the better opportunities with Luke Martin in the home goal dealing with an early Ryan Bevan cross.
A run by Thomas Hillman up the Swansea left culminated in a low delivery which was deflected for a corner, before Scott Coughlan was called into action to smother a near post attempt from Adam Morgan.
The Reds were having the better of the overall play, with efforts by Hillman and Miles John both on target but were blocked or dealt with by Martin, before they eventually took the lead on 27 minutes courtesy of a sublime through ball by Josef Hopkins which put Watts clear, and he kept his nerve by drawing out Martin before slotting his finish into the bottom corner.
Another chance was then created with Tim Parker sending Hillman away on a run, but this time the finish was dragged wide of the near post.
The home defence was finding it difficult to contain their opponents, and it took a good defensive clearance to nullify another dangerous low delivery by Eli Phipps when he was set up by a John assist.
A rare home attack ended with Morgan directing his header over the goal when he met a cross by Tom Johnston, before it took a saving tackle from Warren Hudson on Parker to prevent the striker homing in on the target.
The best chance for the hosts came courtesy of some sloppy Reds defending when an under-hit back header meant for Coughlan was seized on by Tim Hicks, and it took a great tackle on him in the box to relieve the danger and an almost certain equaliser.
This scare seemed to unnerve the visitors who were then let off the hook again following a corner which was partially cleared before being re-circulated into the goalmouth, where Parker was on hand to clear it off the line.
Having survived these two late first half efforts, the Reds were still clinging on to their narrow lead at the start of the second period, and were quickly into their stride, forcing Martin into early action on a couple of occasions, before gratefully seeing a Phipps header rebound off the crossbar when he connected with a Watts cross into the middle.
The visitors then made two changes, with Bevan and Phipps being replaced by Kyran Steadman and Louis Gerrard on 59 minutes, but it was the home side who then went close to levelling matters when Harry Huddart unleashed a superb strike which brought out an equally stunning save from Coughlan to direct it over the top.
With the contest entering its final quarter, the Reds brought on Nathan Logan and Travis Marsh for Parker and Hillman after 75 minutes, and within five minutes of these changes struck again to seal matters with Watts again the recipient, taking full advantage when a defensive clearance rebounded off his back allowing him to win a footrace for possession before directing his finish across Martin on 80 minutes.
The visitors then safely saw out the remainder of the match without too much trouble, and with confidence sky high in the squad, now look forward to their home league encounter with Abergavenny Town at Stebonheath on Friday evening, kick off 7.30pm.
The draw for the second round of the JD Welsh Cup has awarded them an away tie at Canton Liberal on Saturday, October 8.
WRU Cup round up: Wins for Llangennech, Pontyberem and Nantgaredig
THE WRU Cup competitions got underway last weekend and there were some exciting matches across all groups.
Llangennech sealed victory in their first game of the Division 1 Cup as they beat Kenfig Hill 32-17. They led 13-7 at the break and increased that in the second half.
Jordan Saunders scored the first try for Llangennech and Tom Neale converted before adding two penalties.
Joseph Hutchings was next to get on the scoresheet and Neale again added the extras to make it 20-12.
Replacement Rhys Davies then scored two tries with Neale converting the second one to complete the scoring.
The other game in Group H saw Llanelli Wanderers suffer a 21-30 defeat at the hands of Bridgend Athletic.
Lewis Jones scored two tries for the Wanderers and he added the rest with the boot.
In Group I, Hendy were also beaten as they suffered a 14-43 loss at the hands of Waunarlywdd.
In Group J, Felinfoel were beaten 23-8 by Bonymaen.
In the Division 2 Cup, Nantgaredig were victorious in an entertaining Group G game against Seven Sisters. They eventually ran out 32-29 winners.
The other game in that group saw Kidwelly beat Maesteg Celtic 52-7. Kidwelly put in a solid performance and their defence held up to some extreme pressure during the parts of the game.
Pontyberem were victorious in their first game in Group H as they beat Pyle 19-10.
The Bont worked hard for the win, scoring three tries with fly half Dominic Sauro crossing, and two tries for the returning back Mikey Jenkins. It was a solid enough performance against an experienced and rugged side.
In Group J, Burry Port suffered a narrow 23-26 defeat at home against Morriston. Tries for the Blacks came from Lewis Ellar and Osian Thomas. Lee Evans added two conversions and three penalties but it wasn’t enough for victory.
In Group L, Tycroes suffered a 3-39 defeat at the hands of Builth Wells.
In the Division 3 Cup, Tumble suffered a 22-42 defeat against Nantymoel in Group G.
In Group H, New Dock Stars earned a 22-13 win over Llanybydder. Tries came from Iestyn Bunyan, Adam Gealy and Glen Williams. Adam Gealy added two conversions and a penalty to help seal the win.
Trimsaran’s first game in Group I saw them beaten 13-32 by Aberavon Green Stars.
Bynea suffered a 52-0 loss in Group J against Tonmawr and in Group M, Betws were beaten 14-20 by Swansea Uplands.
In Group O, Furnace United were beaten 17-29 by Taibach.
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